Cracker Jack no longer offers a prize inside the box. The prize is online.
Fun fact: There is a Cracker Jack Collectors Association, dedicated to collecting prizes that came in a box of Cracker Jacks. On its website, the CJCA asks the question “What could possibly be more fun than finding the surprise inside Cracker Jack?”
Well, the fun is over, in a manner of speaking.
Cracker Jack, which celebrates its 120th birthday this year and today is owned by Frito-Lay, no longer provides any sort of physical prize in its packaging. Instead, it provides information telling the consumer to download an app, scan the QR code inside the box, and access baseball-inspired mobile digital experiences as your “prize”.
The change inspired a torrent of complaints via social media, including the creation of a “Put the Prize Back in Cracker Jack’’ Facebook page. However, the “prize’’ in Cracker Jack the last few years has been little more than a sticker or temporary tattoo.
Cracker Jack, for the painfully unenlightened, is popcorn covered in a molasses-flavored caramel coating, along with peanuts. In 1912, the company making Cracker Jack began to put prizes in the boxes of the treat, including little books, baseball cards, whistles or a magnifying glass. The prizes changed recently when the company feared a child might swallow the prize while eating the corn.
So now Cracker Jack has gone digital, and the company says that is a good thing.
“The Cracker Jack prize inside has been as much a part of the nostalgia and love for the brand as the unforgettable combination of caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts,’’ said Frito-Lay senior director of marketing Haston Lewis in a press release. “The new prize allows families to enjoy their favorite baseball moments through a one-of-a-kind mobile experience, leveraging digital technology to bring the iconic prize inside to life.”
According to business columnist Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune, the new digital experiences include “Dot Dash” and “Dance Cam”, similar to stunts teams provide fans between innings at live games. There is also “Baseball Star’’ and “Get Carded” which allow customers to create their own autographed trading cards.
Cracker Jack was first produced in the city of Chicago by Frederick and Louis Rueckheim from Germany, and its original recipe was produced in 1896. In 1908, songwriters Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norwood placed Cracker Jack in its well-known baseball song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game’’ and in 1912, Cracker Jack began putting prizes inside their boxes.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.